Archive for the ‘What Works’ Category

Renewed call to action

April 26, 2023

Members of the Obama-era 21st Century Task Force on Policing (2015) have issued a “Renewed Call to Action” with 8 recommendations and 56 action steps, available here. The report notes “The nation remains in a policing crisis, and too many poor communities of color face the adverse conditions of poverty and economic exclusion that aggravate the relationship between communities and police.” The recommendations include a focus on community safety, rebuilding police culture, establishing national standards, addressing gaps in accountability, and addressing underlying drivers of crime.

Place-based policing & violent crime

March 14, 2022

Amid concerns about increases in violent crime, it is important to remember that “violence is highly concentrated in small sets of people and places,” and thus it makes sense to take a targeted approach to the problem. This column argues in particular for a strategy of place-based policing, an approach that doesn’t require “passing new legislation or adding enormous budget expenditures.” Examples of crime concentration from Boston, Minneapolis, and Oakland, California are cited, along with evidence of the effectiveness of problem-oriented and hot spot policing strategies.

Criminal investigation and the art of the interview

February 14, 2022

Interviewing and interrogation are key elements of policing, including criminal investigation. Aggressive and accusatory methods have been the norm for a hundred years or longer, aided by psychological techniques designed to “gradually break down the suspect’s defenses, convincing him/her that it would be in his/her best interests to confess.” More recently, however, those techniques have been shown to produce too many false confessions, and in addition, to obtain less relevant information than other more conversational methods. The conversational approach has become the standard in the UK and several other countries, but practices in the U.S. have been slower to change. This paper reviews the history and makes the case for “a national conversation about the efficacy of relying on interviewing tactics that are largely unregulated, unrecorded, and either uninformed by science or based on science from the 1950s.”

Procedural Justice & Research Director in Charleston, SC

December 9, 2021

The police department in Charleston, SC is searching to fill the position of Procedural Justice & Research Director, as advertised here. Position responsibilities are to “advise, direct, and oversee implementation and continued support of procedural justice and any audit recommendations within the Charleston Police Department. Additionally, this position will monitor (and coordinate) research to ensure the Charleston Police Department maintains best practices concerning the development, coordination and use of scientific research and appropriate methodologies.” The application deadline is December 21.

Developing an evidence-based recruiting video

August 28, 2021

This column summarizes the approach taken by Charleston (SC) PD to develop a new recruiting video. As noted, “Law enforcement agencies have been creating police recruitment videos and multimedia for years trying to attract qualified individuals to join their ranks.” Rather than develop another one based on beliefs and opinions about what might be most effective in attracting the best candidates, CPD collaborated with in-state researchers to test the impact of various images and themes. The resulting video is embedded in the column. 

Medicaid funding for crisis response

April 27, 2021

The recent COVID relief bill has an estimated $1 billion in Medicaid funding over the next 10 years for mobile crisis teams, as reported here. Co-responder and non-police response models are becoming increasingly popular, although none have been rigorously evaluated. One official thinks “It’s really exciting to see the federal government support this model. I am hopeful that three years from now we will have multiple models and ideally some data that shows this has actually saved people’s lives.”

Project Green Light in Detroit

April 26, 2021

Detroit implemented Project Green Light in 2016 in hopes of reducing robberies and carjacking. Businesses install a highly visible green light and one or more surveillance cameras that feed into the police department’s Real Time Crime Center. Over 600 sites have joined. As reported here, violent crimes have decreased, but a recent evaluation couldn’t definitively attribute results to Green Light since other major initiatives like Ceasefire and Project Safe Neighborhoods have operated during the same time period. Meanwhile, some activists and political leaders are expressing concern over excessive surveillance and a desire to invest more in social services.

Assessing reform proposals

April 19, 2021

The Task Force on Policing of the Council on Criminal Justice has published assessments of 11 police reform proposals, available here. Nine of the reforms are recommended based on available evidence of their effectiveness, including duty to intervene, de-escalation and procedural justice training, a national decertification database, and “expansion of federal pattern-or-practice investigations and collaborative reform efforts.” Evidence was found lacking for two frequently proposed reforms — implicit bias training and civilian oversight boards.

Recruiting to optimize procedural justice

January 2, 2021

More than anything else, Black residents want local policing that is fair and effective, according to this study. Representativeness is fundamentally important, but the maxim that “hiring more African American law enforcement officers will improve African American confidence in local law enforcement” doesn’t seem to be supported by the data. The author’s conclusion is that agencies “should focus recruitment, hiring, advancement, and discipline efforts on selecting and supporting those officers dedicated to ensuring procedural justice for all.”

Automating analysis of BWC video

December 23, 2020

Body-worn camera utilization is now widespread. One potential value of BWC video is for routine supervision and auditing to determine whether policies and practices are being followed out in the field. But the practical challenge is reviewing more than a tiny sample of hundreds and thousands of hours of BWC footage — it’s extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive. This announcement from the National Police Foundation reports the start of a new project aimed at developing and testing an automated system for analyzing video of police-citizen interactions. The objective is to “make it possible for agencies to evaluate large amounts of BWC footage in far more accurate, efficient, and cost-effective ways than the status quo of random sampling and unstructured supervisory review.”